The Week So Far

1. Europe
The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, appeared in court to face charges of tax fraud in Milan on 28 March. The trial is the first of four that Berlusconi is due to face in the coming weeks. He is also accused of abusing his office and having sex with an underage prostitute. He denies all charges.

2. Middle East
On 29 March, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, dissolved his cabinet in response to widespread anti-government protests. The move is the first of a number of concessions by al-Assad, who is trying new means of stopping the tide of dissent after a crackdown that killed dozens of civilians failed to stem the protests.

3. Asia
Eleven Pakistani soldiers were killed in an ambush outside Peshawar, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, on 28 March. Those killed include a colonel and a captain in Pakistan's Frontier Corps, a unit being trained by US troops.

4. Africa
Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, president elect of Côte d'Ivoire, have seized six towns controlled by the contested incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, in the country's western cocoa belt. Gbagbo has called for an immediate ceasefire.

5. South America
Chile's government will extend summer time to save energy after an extended dry season caused an energy crisis, due to the country's reliance on hydroelectricity. Clocks will now go back for winter time on 7 May, rather than on 3 April.

6. North America
Video footage of US soldiers killing civilians and posing with their corpses in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan has been published by Rolling Stone. Corporal Jeremy Morlock has been sentenced to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of murder.

7. Science
China could overtake the US in the number of scientific papers published by 2013, according to the Royal Society. In 2008, the US produced 316,317 papers, compared with China's 184,080. But this gap is likely to disappear in two years. China now spends more than $100bn a year on scientific research and has upwards of 1.5 million science and engineering students.

8. People
Elizabeth Taylor left behind an estate worth between $600m and $1bn when she died on 23 March. She had built up the fortune through business, including her own perfume label.

9. Education
Leeds Metropolitan University has become one of the first universities to confirm that it will charge less than £9,000 in tuition fees from 2012. The former polytechnic, which is ranked 97th out of 122 in the latest Sunday Times university league tables, will charge £8,500 for all full-time undergraduates.

10. Arts
To mark its closure on 1 April, the UK Film Council has published the results of a survey that it commissioned, which found that older women feel marginalised and that ethnic-minority groups feel stereotyped in film. "Film has the ability to change behaviour and shift opinion," said Mary FitzPatrick, the UKFC's head of diversity.

This article first appeared in the 04 April 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Who are the English?

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The New Times: Brexit, globalisation, the crisis in Labour and the future of the left

With essays by David Miliband, Paul Mason, John Harris, Lisa Nandy, Vince Cable and more.

Once again the “new times” are associated with the ascendancy of the right. The financial crash of 2007-2008 – and the Great Recession and sovereign debt crises that were a consequence of it – were meant to have marked the end of an era of runaway “turbocapitalism”. It never came close to happening. The crash was a crisis of capitalism but not the crisis of capitalism. As Lenin observed, there is “no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation” for capitalism, and so we discovered again. Instead, the greatest burden of the period of fiscal retrenchment that followed the crash was carried by the poorest in society, those most directly affected by austerity, and this in turn has contributed to a deepening distrust of elites and a wider crisis of governance.

Where are we now and in which direction are we heading?

Some of the contributors to this special issue believe that we have reached the end of the “neoliberal” era. I am more sceptical. In any event, the end of neoliberalism, however you define it, will not lead to a social-democratic revival: it looks as if, in many Western countries, we are entering an age in which centre-left parties cannot form ruling majorities, having leaked support to nationalists, populists and more radical alternatives.

Certainly the British Labour Party, riven by a war between its parliamentary representatives and much of its membership, is in a critical condition. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has inspired a remarkable re-engagement with left-wing politics, even as his party slumps in the polls. His own views may seem frozen in time, but hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young graduates, have responded to his anti-austerity rhetoric, his candour and his shambolic, unspun style.

The EU referendum, in which as much as one-third of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, exposed another chasm in Labour – this time between educated metropolitan liberals and the more socially conservative white working class on whose loyalty the party has long depended. This no longer looks like a viable election-winning coalition, especially after the collapse of Labour in Scotland and the concomitant rise of nationalism in England.

In Marxism Today’s “New Times” issue of October 1988, Stuart Hall wrote: “The left seems not just displaced by Thatcherism, but disabled, flattened, becalmed by the very prospect of change; afraid of rooting itself in ‘the new’ and unable to make the leap of imagination required to engage the future.” Something similar could be said of the left today as it confronts Brexit, the disunities within the United Kingdom, and, in Theresa May, a prime minister who has indicated that she might be prepared to break with the orthodoxies of the past three decades.

The Labour leadership contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith was largely an exercise in nostalgia, both candidates seeking to revive policies that defined an era of mass production and working-class solidarity when Labour was strong. On matters such as immigration, digital disruption, the new gig economy or the power of networks, they had little to say. They proposed a politics of opposition – against austerity, against grammar schools. But what were they for? Neither man seemed capable of embracing the “leading edge of change” or of making the imaginative leap necessary to engage the future.

So is there a politics of the left that will allow us to ride with the currents of these turbulent “new times” and thus shape rather than be flattened by them? Over the next 34 pages 18 writers, offering many perspectives, attempt to answer this and related questions as they analyse the forces shaping a world in which power is shifting to the East, wars rage unchecked in the Middle East, refugees drown en masse in the Mediterranean, technology is outstripping our capacity to understand it, and globalisation begins to fragment.

— Jason Cowley, Editor 

Tom Kibasi on what the left fails to see

Philip Collins on why it's time for Labour to end its crisis

John Harris on why Labour is losing its heartland

Lisa Nandy on how Labour has been halted and hollowed out

David Runciman on networks and the digital revolution

John Gray on why the right, not the left, has grasped the new times

Mariana Mazzucato on why it's time for progressives to rethink capitalism

Robert Ford on why the left must reckon with the anger of those left behind

Ros Wynne-Jones on the people who need a Labour government most

Gary Gerstle on Corbyn, Sanders and the populist surge

Nick Pearce on why the left is haunted by the ghosts of the 1930s

Paul Mason on why the left must be ready to cause a commotion

Neal Lawson on what the new, 21st-century left needs now

Charles Leadbeater explains why we are all existentialists now

John Bew mourns the lost left

Marc Stears on why democracy is a long, hard, slow business

Vince Cable on how a financial crisis empowered the right

David Miliband on why the left needs to move forward, not back

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times